Vale farm at centre of alleged £6 million counterfeit tobacco plot

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RAIDS in north Aylesbury Vale have led to the discovery of an alleged factory producing tobacco in a £6 miliion counterfeit plot.

HM Revenue and Customs have discovered two machines, believed to be used in the process of cutting and drying tobacco, alongside 250 kilos of processed, cut tobacco and 500 kilos of loose tobacco leaf in a rural farm building.

A cannabis factory was also found in the same area, housing around 100 plants.

It is believed that the tobacco was being produced in a north Aylesbury Vale farm building, although authorities were unwilling to state the exact location due to the sensitivity of the investigation.

It is then thought the tobacco was moved to Milton Keynes where it was wrapped and sealed ready for distribution, before being transported to Cannock in Staffordshire from which it was being distributed.

Four men, aged 21, 31, 34 and 40, and a woman, aged 45, have been arrested in Buckinghamshire.

The woman arrested is thought to be an illegal immigrant from China and has been referred to the UK Border Agency.

Some of the men are also believed to be Chinese illegal immigrants.

The raids, which took place on Thursday, are allegedly linked to the illegal manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit hand-rolling tobacco.

It is believed that the activities of the alleged organised crime gang would have resulted in a revenue loss to the public finances of at least £6 million a year.

There were also raids and arrests in Staffordshire and the West Midlands linked to the plot.

Adrian Farley, assistant director of criminal investigation for Revenue and Customs, said: “Our actions have disrupted what we believe to be the manufacture and supply of a substantial amount of illicit tobacco at an illegal manufacturing and distribution plant.

“With over £2 billion being stolen from UK finances each year by criminals involved in the illicit tobacco industry, it is serious crime which we are determined to eradicate.”

Thames Valley Police and West Midlands Police were also involved in the investigation.